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In an effort to build discipline-specific communities, the RDA introduced Communities of Practice (CoPs) to its membership in December 2020. CoPs investigate, discuss, and provide knowledge and skills within a specific discipline. Composed of disciplinary experts, CoPs are committed to directly or indirectly enabling data sharing, exchange, and/or interoperability by serving as the coordination focal point for the RDA in specific disciplines.

Through the operation of discipline-specific Interest Groups, CoPs have been represented in the RDA for some time, serving as windows of the RDA to their respective communities and providing interconnections with other RDA groups. The concept of a CoP within the RDA is based upon the notion that a specific discipline requires a forum and knowledge exchange platform, where discipline-specific data challenges can be discussed and resolved by community experts.

A Framework for the Creation and Management of RDA Communities of Practice

Bello Bertin, Patricia R., Genova, Francoise, Hanahoe, Hilary, Kethers, Stefanie, Koureas, Dimitris, Meleco, Yolanda, Parr, Cynthia, Stotzka, Rainer, Subirats Coll, Imma, & Walker, Bridget. (2020).

The Value of Communities of Practice

CoPs offer an open forum for discussion, development and maintenance of solutions to disciplinary data challenges. Members within a CoP learn about disciplinary trends, learn from individuals’ experiences in overcoming disciplinary challenges, and collaborate on implementing solutions to existing ones, including how best to apply RDA’s Recommendations and Outputs. They also gain the added experience of networking with individuals within their own discipline and expanding their professional networks.

Creating a Community of Practice

A Community of Practice Agreement must be submitted to the Secretariat (via or initiating a new group) from at least one existing RDA Interest Group (IG) or Working Group (WG) that have produced RDA-endorsed Recommendations and/or Supporting Outputs. The Agreement will undergo a six-week review by the Technical Advisory Board (TAB), Organisational Advisory BoardRegional Advisory Board, and member community. After, the Council will review and if the Agreement has met all requirements, the CoP will be established.


At a high level, the CoP Agreement must identify the proposed discipline and include outcomes the CoP intends to deliver, a strategy to increase membership and engagement, a plan to ensure the right people are involved to drive and implement the strategy, and a level of community support.


As with all RDA groups, members within a CoP must agree to RDA’s Code of Conduct and Guiding Principles.


  • At least three co-chairs from at least three different continents should lead a CoP. These individuals will be the points of contact and responsible for communication within the RDA and more broadly. Specific responsibilities of the co-chairs include ensuring:
    The quality, scope, timeliness, and usefulness of the work in progress;
  • An effective organisational structure is in place for the CoP;
  • Progress within the CoP is evidenced by increasing membership, infrastructure and tool development, development and editing of policy and written documents, and other tangible outcomes.
Group chair roles and responsibilities


CoPs are open to participation from all RDA members who have an interest in that specific discipline. This includes individual, organisational, and regional members from Low- and Middle-Income countries (LMICs). It is recommended that CoPs comprise members from at least 10 countries across at least three continents, including from the Global South.

While a CoP must be associated with at least one existing RDA WG or IG, it is not a requirement for CoP members to be members of existing RDA groups.


CoPs are expected to:

  1. 1. Raise awareness about the importance of opening up access to data by research organisations and private stakeholders.
  2. 2. Focus attention on the implementation of good data management practices and policies, and RDA Recommendations and Outputs within institutions.
  3. 3. Highlight the need for tools and existing standards to facilitate FAIR data management, and the establishment of RDA groups to develop such solutions.
  4. 4. Connect and collaborate with existing disciplinary communities and initiatives to build social and technical bridges.
  5. 5. Collaborate and partner with industry, associations, organisations, and the media.
  6. 6. Offer insight into disciplinary data challenges and solutions.
  7. 7. Share discipline-specific practices with broader data practitioner communities.
  8. 8. Foster understanding of and access to the RDA for new members from discipline-specific communities.
  9. 9. Pursue discipline-specific funding opportunities.

Duration and Reporting Process

Similar to IGs, there is no fixed duration for a CoP. However, every 18 months, an established CoP will be evaluated and reviewed by Council. CoPs are also expected to produce public reports which include progress on the CoPs goals, it’s development within the disciplinary landscape, engagement and outreach activities and related metrics, membership growth, increase in stakeholder organisation support, and interactions with key stakeholders.

Once a CoP submits its public report, TAB will review and provide feedback to the Secretariat, who will then forward to Council. Within two weeks, Council will review the report and may request clarification or revisions. Once approved by Council, the report will be published on the RDA website.


CoPs may be closed:

  1. 1. Upon request of the majority of the co-chairs, and with evidence that two-thirds of the majority of the responding members agree.
  2. 2. If Council considers the CoP to be violating its Agreement, the RDA’s Code of Conduct, or Guiding Principles.
    3. If the periodic review executed by Council indicates the CoP should not continue.
  3. 4. If the CoP is considered inactive.